On The Dandelion Cloud
What are we to make these days of that once seemingly ubiquitous class of book widely known as the "coming out" novel? In the early 70s and 80s, this genre seemed to comprise nearly the whole of gay literary fiction. But that market soon became predictably over-saturated, acceptance of GLBT issues became far more widespread, and today's generation seems remarkably – almost lamentably – not only angst free, but also oblivious to the concerns of the preceding generation of newly emerging GLBT folk. In this environment, then, of what value is a book, set in 1979 in the Midwest, about a young man afraid to admit to his friends that he's gay?
Having written The Dandelion Cloud over nearly three decades, I can attest that -- aside from merely being able to express the story in the way I wanted -- by far the biggest hurdle I faced was writing about a character at the fearful, early stages of admitting his new-found sexuality to himself and to his friends in a world in which perceptions about -- and acceptance of -- that sexuality were changing almost daily. What once was a story whose end, literally, was Justin facing up to the fact that he was gay, became instead – of necessity – something much larger: an exploration not only of the fact that he is gay, but also an exploration of what that love itself means in the context of a friendship. What does it mean, after all, if someone is friends with someone, but also feels attracted to him or her? What are the consequences of that desire?
Ernest Hemingway is reported to have remarked, upon finishing one of his novels: "Everything I know is in that book." It's a remarkable statement, and I'm not sure I even totally agree with that aim for art (I tend to think art is more about the questions than about the answers). But I think at this point I can say: Everything I know about that particular period of my life is in my book.
If I've done my work correctly, I hope readers will agree that I've at least asked many of the right questions. The purpose of The Dandelion Cloud – and of this site going forward – is to investigate those questions, and perhaps even find some answers, along the way.